The OCT Market

A current estimate for the global OCT market is $1.0 billion.1

Market Estimate chart

The initial business objective for SDM Innovations is to develop and commercialize technology for use in optical coherence tomography (OCT)-based devices used in the diagnosis and treatment of ophthalmic conditions.

Business Strategy


Develop technology that will significantly increase the utility and value of optical coherence tomography (OCT) for users and driving product preference for manufacturers.


Patent-protected (US 2014/0160488 A1, WO 2014/088650 A1) space‑division multiplexing technology and processes increase OCT scanning speed by a factor of ten without compromising resolution.


Initial use of SDM Innovation's advance in OCT will be for ophthalmic applications.


The company plans to complete design enhancements and conduct clinical testing that will clearly demonstrate the value to licensees.

In 2015, it was estimated that in 2010 over 32 million ophthalmic OCT procedures were performed for the diagnosis of eye diseases, corresponding to about one OCT procedure performed each second of every day of the year.2 OCT has become a fundamental tool in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and conditions of the eye.

High speed, high resolution, and high sensitivity are greatly desired for OCT.

Current commercial ophthalmic OCT systems operate at 20‑70 thousand axial scans (depth scans, or A‑scans) per second. In ophthalmic clinics, each 3D scan of the retina takes ~ 3‑10 seconds, making it susceptible to motion artifacts from blinking, reflexive eye movement (saccades), and tear film degradation. This is especially an issue with elderly patients and patients with poor or no central vision for whom OCT scans often need to be repeated multiple times in order to try to obtain a useful set of motion‑free images. This adds cost, time, and in some cases, results in unusable images.

The following summarizes the various methods OCT device manufacturers have used to try to achieve higher scanning speeds.3

Method Comment
1. Increase scanning speed Fewer photons returned per spot imaged result in a decrease in sensitivity; an upper bound for practical imaging speed
2. Eye-tracking technology with overlapping of multiple images via software stitching/frame averaging
  • Creates wide diversity and inconsistency among OCT devices regarding signal quality, image appearance, and quantitative measurements.
  • Increased machine complexity and does not solve blinking artifacts.Multiple scans are required leading to increased imaging time, decreased clinic throughput, increased patient fatigue. Results not always reliable.
3. Increase scanning beam power Not possible due to safety issues

The ophthalmic OCT device market is in need of the next evolution in speed improvement and SDMI believes that SDM‑OCT will largely satisfy that need.

A magnitude increase in imaging speed should greatly reduce motion artifacts, minimize procedure time, and improve patient comfort while improving procedure efficiency and the likelihood of providing meaningful medical data for optimizing diagnosis and treatment that should result in a reduction in vision loss.

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The SDMI Team

Bob Michel

Robert Michel

President, CEO, & Co-Founder

  • More than 20 years of experience in the life sciences in both in-line and new product marketing, strategy, management, and development
  • Mr. Michel has demonstrated successful commercial leadership and has an excellent track record with proficiency in product development, and upstream and downstream marketing, from early stage through post-launch.
  • He is founder and principal of a life sciences' business development and marketing consultancy. Mr. Michel also serves on the Board of Directors for Philadelphia Consulting Consortium International.


  • B.A., Biology, La Salle University

Chao Zhou, PhD

Chao Zhou, PhD


  • His Lehigh University lab is developing ultrahigh‑speed and ultrahigh‑resolution OCT and OCM technologies for ophthalmic imaging, cancer imaging, developmental biology, tissue engineering, and 3D imaging of brain functions
  • Dr. Zhou has published over 50 peer-reviewed articles in journals such as Science Advances, Nature Medicine, Cancer Research, Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism, Optics Letters, Optics Express, and Journal of Biomedical Optics.
  • Research interests are in biomedical optics, optical coherence tomography (OCT), optical coherence microscopy (OCM), diffuse optical spectroscopy/imaging, and laser speckle imaging
  • The recipient of numerous honors and awards including the National Institute of Health Pathway to Independence Award, he has presented his work at conferences and invited talks across the United States. Click to see a complete list of his published work.


  • Ph.D., Physics, University of Pennsylvania
  • M.S., Physics, University of Pennsylvania
  • B.S., Physics, Peking University


1 MarketsandMarkets, "Optical Imaging Market by Technique (OCT, NIRS, HSI, PAT) by Product (Imaging System, Camera, Lens, Software) by Therapeutic Area (Ophthalmology, Oncology, Neurology, Dermatology), by Application (Pathological, Intra-operative) - Global Forecast to 2020".

2 Swanson EA, Huang D. Ophthalmic OCT reaches $1 billion per year. Retinal Physician. 2011;45:58-59.

3 Chen C-L, Ishikawa H,Wollstein G, Bilonick RA, Kagemann L, Schuman JS. Virtual averaging making nonframe-averaged optical coherence tomography images comparable to frame-averaged images. 2016;5(1):1, doi:10.1167/ tvst.5.1.1